How to find a co-founder for your startup
Sharing your business journey with a co-founder can have many benefits. Two heads are better than one - with someone else to split the pressures and workload, not to mention help throw ideas into the mix, your business could potentially grow faster and more efficiently. You and your co-founder are likely to have different strengths that complement each other. And apart from anything else, it's nice to have someone on your side when you're starting out; entrepreneurship can feel lonely at times. But where can you find one?
When on the hunt for a co-founder, networking events have never been more valuable. Check out Meetup.co.uk for startup-focussed events - we even run regular ones ourselves. Even if the focus isn't specifically on finding a co-founder (and many are), meeting other entrepreneurs in a startup-focussed environment is a brilliant chance to get involved with the scene and make connections that could lead to finding one further down the line. Industry-specific events are also a good call.
You can find co-founders online - whether through specific platforms such as Founders Nation and Co-founders Lab, or through Facebook and LinkedIn groups for entrepreneurs. You can also get involved in the startup scene through Twitter to keep track of events and make connections - every connection could come in useful!
Friends and family
A friend or family member could be a co-founder. While it could be risky - could you relationship handle the potential pressure? - you know them well, you presumably get on, and those are two extremely important aspects of working with a co-founder. If you don't have a friend to go into business with directly, get the word out there that you're looking for a co-founder and ask if people you know could help. Especially if you have friends in the industry, they could put you in touch with a potential business match made in heaven.
Case study: Alexandra Johnson of Fools & Queens
Alexandra Johnson and Matt Heath are the founders of Fools & Queens, a luxury pudding startup creating classic puddings with a twist - they're all low-sugar and gluten-free, meaning you can indulge without negative health effects. They've recently launched in Fortnums & Masons. Here Alexandra talks about how they met, and the positive impact that having a co-founder has had on their business.
Did you know your co-founder before you started your business, and how did you meet?
Yes! Matt and I worked together - he was an officer in the Household Cavalry and I was an officer in the Royal Air Force. We were on the same 15 month Pashto course and in the same Cultural Advising team that deployed to Afghanistan on Op Herrick 15. From day one Matt and I hit it off - we both had the same warped sense of humour and dislike of the rigidity of the military language school. It also helped that we had the world's worst 'boss' who taught us how not to do it.
What made you decide to go into business together?
We share a passion for good food. We left the military at roughly the same time and talked for a few months about what possibilities were open to us. I was thinking about starting at Leith's and doing something in the food world, and he had a similar idea. We tossed around lots of ideas about what we could do, saw there was a trend for sweets and marshmallows, and it started from there really. Our first market stall looked like the WI - we had tried to recreate everything sweet under the sun!
What are the biggest business challenges when working with a co-founder?
Everything gets talked through, and rarely does anything happen spontaneously; I suppose this is not necessarily a bad thing, but because there are two of you, you have twice as much doubt to wade through before it seems like a good idea! We can be our own worst enemies sometimes, holding ourselves back rather than taking the risk.
What are the benefits?
Matt and I rarely have the same 'down' day. What gets him down and upset and worried aren't the same things that stress me out, so we able to perk each other up and get each other going again. Sometimes when we are down together we have a coffee, chat about our former boss and remind ourselves that things aren't really that bad!
How do you split the work of the business – do you have specific areas of strength?
There seems to be a natural split. At the beginning there was some duplication of effort and we even created a jobs list that we tried to split up between us, but now we have our own way of working. We both know the business inside out and who is dealing with what - for example, Matt does the majority of the bookkeeping, accounts, bill-paying etc, whilst I cover the social media and online side of things. We both actively search out new stockists and we share the cooking.
What do you think is the best way to meet a co-founder, and do you think it’s better to have one? Why?
I know some partnerships that have worked because they didn't know each other socially, just in the business world, but for me that would be sad. Matt and I work so well because we are such good friends. Yes we constantly distract each other, and we're the first to admit we have the attention span of teaspoons and are constantly finding ourselves down rabbit holes and wandering off on tangents, but we have so much fun together it spurs us on to succeed so we can keep doing it!
I don't think I would have succeeded if I had done it by myself. Having Matt beside me, rallying us on has been what I've needed; I know even if Fools & Queens wasn't to work out, Matt and I would be able to find something else to get our teeth into because our dynamic works so well.